What are the mechanisms of database protection?

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A database can be protected by copyright as a literary work and/or by a sui generis database right:

 - under the rules of international law - Berne Convention, the WTO/TRIPs Agreement and under the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT), original and creative databases enjoy copyright protection as literary works.

 - under Directive 96/9/EC on the legal protection of databases, which creates a specific property right for databases, that is unrelated to other forms of protection such as copyright. This new form of “sui generis” protection applies to those databases, which are not “original” in the sense of an author’s own intellectual creation (“non-original” databases), but which involved a substantial investment in their making.   

Both rights only apply to the arrangement of data – neither database copyright nor the sui generis right creates an additional protection for the individual elements of the database.